Protect yourself and your intellectual property

 

 

David Adler speaking

The first Craft Racket of the year was January 21st at Blue Buddha Boutique. Our guest speaker, David Adler, Esq. – principal attorney, Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler, LLC, gave an overview of intellectual property law. Adler understands the unique needs of makers and gave great information on what makers need to know to protect themselves.

Adler stated that “Intellectual property rights are a bundle of exclusive rights over creative expressions, both artistic and commercial. Creative artistic expression is generally covered by copyright laws, which protect creative works such as books, movies, music, paintings, photographs, and software and gives the copyright holder exclusive right to control reproduction or adaptation of such works for a certain period of time.” So what does that mean and how do you get these rights?

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The moment you create something and it is fixed in a tangible form (for example written, photographed or posted to the web) it is copyrighted. Ideas, facts, titles, names, short phrases and blank forms are not copyrightable. The length of time something is copyrighted depends on when an item was created. After the copyright lapses then items become part of the public domain, but that can sometimes be tricky as well, so it is best to verify that something is no longer copyrighted before using it.

While something is copyrighted the moment it is created and fixed in tangible form, it is necessary to have a registration certificate in order to enforce the copyright. You will need to file with the copyright office for every single instance of something you want to copyright. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is part of copyright law and gives you a way to enforce the usage of your copyrighted work online.

Adler also talked about Trade Marks and Service Marks. He mentioned that every state has a trade law act which is to help protect consumers from being confused by businesses. With federal trademark protection the law presumes you are the exclusive owner of the trademark. A trademark is “any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from others, and to indicate the source of the goods”. It is your brand name. A service mark is “any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce, to identify and distinguish the services of one provider from services provided by others, and to indicate the source of the services”. It is the visual identifying mark of your brand.

Talking about Intellectual Property Law

You will want to register your trademark and file an “Intent to Use”. This trademark is published and it allows other businesses the opportunity to object to the use of the trademark. In fact one of the Craft Mafia filed an ‘Intent to Use’ through Legal Zoom. Another business in China, which did not make the same thing, objected and said it was too close to their trademark. Many angry cease and desist letters, and consultations with lawyers later, she ultimately had to rebrand. The experience cost her $10,000.

There is a reason so many lawyers have english degrees because filing is an art and the language needs to be very clear. A service like Legal Zoom cannot provide the clarifying information and craft an intent to use the way that a lawyer can. Adler recommends seeing a lawyer first to provide you with the protection your business will need. He suggests that you: Identify your intangible assets early; Protect your intangible assets through registration and contract and Leverage your intangible assets strategically.

You can find David Adler at Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler and his blog, and on twitter. He also mentioned that Lawyers for the Creative Arts provide legal services for the arts pro bono or at a reduced fee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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